BY JANA-MARI SMITH
Tourism in Namibia continues to grow.
At the launch of the 14th Namibian Tourism Expo yesterday, Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said that statistics show there was a 2 per cent increase in occupancy rates between 2010 and 2011.
Moreover, according to the Namibia Airports Company, there was an 8 per cent increase in arrival numbers from 2010 to 2011. Besides this good news, the Minister also underlined the fact that the entire private and public tourism sector has shown strong support for Namibia’s bid to host the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit.
The Expo’s official theme is adventure, and at the launch, each of the speakers emphasised and pinpointed Namibia’s allure and attractions, and the fact that the country is more than ready to host the event. Namibia has been shortlisted as one of three finalists. An inspection team from the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) left the country only recently.
At the personal invitation of the Minister, ATTA’s president Shannon Stowell is currently in Namibia, and was one of the guests of honour at the Expo launch yesterday. Stowell said that his brief visit to the country – during which he ‘kneeled before a chief, learnt to fly and caught a tiger fish’ – has left no doubt in his mind that Namibia is ‘a strong contender’. Stowell added that in the next decade tourism was going to ‘explode’ and praised Namibia’s efforts to align tourism alongside conservation.
He noted that countries such as Namibia, whose tourism drive is strongly linked to the protection and conservation of natural resources, are bound to become top-notch destinations that will always provide visitors with a unique experience. Stowell explained that adventure tourism as ATTA members define it, is based on three main pillars: firstly that the destination has a strong connection to the outdoors; secondly that there is some kind of physical activity; and lastly, that visitors are able to meet and get to know local cultures. And Namibia, he said, offers all three. Adventure travel is one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry, which represents US$89 billion in annual sales.
The annual Adventure Travel World Summit sells out every year to over 700 executive level adventure tourism professionals. The announcement for the summit host country will be made between June and August.